Desperate Israeli Leftist Parties Contemplate Merger After Election Humiliation

Avi Gabbay (C), chairman of Israel's Labour Party, speaks at his party's headquarters in the coastal city of Tel Aviv on election night on April 9, 2019, with Labour politician Amir Peretz (L) standing alongside him. (Photo by JALAA MAREY / AFP) (Photo credit should read JALAA MAREY/AFP/Getty Images)

The Times of Israel reports: Officials in the Labor and Meretz parties are exploring the possibility of a merger of their two parties in the wake of Labor’s worst-ever election showing on April 9.

The storied Labor party, which led Israel at its founding in 1948 and for the next 30 years, and was for decades the mainstay of the Israeli center-left, won 4.45% of the vote, garnering just six seats in last week’s election. Meretz won 3.63% of the vote — not far above the 3.25% Knesset threshold — gaining four seats and narrowly missing a fifth, according to official figures.

The two parties’ fate is widely seen as a sign of voters deepening disaffection over the moribund peace process with the Palestinians, with which the two parties are most closely identified. In 1992, the year of Meretz’s founding, Labor won 44 seats and Meretz 12, forming the foundation of Israel’s 25th government under Yitzhak Rabin, which would launch the Oslo peace process.

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